Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunset Boulevard and More: Leading Ladies to See on Broadway Now



It's countdown time to the Tony's.  This year it’s a diva dash and you can still catch most of the leading ladies who have graced the Broadway stages this season, albeit most in limited runs.
(All photos -- credit: Joan Marcus)

First, the play ladies. Sally Field has been nominated as Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Amanda Wingfield in the highly touted re-imagining of The Glass Menagerie. Sadly, the show’s lack of overall nominations forced a closing six weeks earlier than planned.  You’ll have to wait for the next revival of this Tennessee Williams classic or, perhaps, for a future tour with Sally (we can only hope).

Sally Fields

Not to worry. There’s still much female power that shouldn’t be missed. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are the chameleon actresses in The Little Foxes exchanging roles every other night. In an interesting twist, Ms. Linney has been nominated as Leading Actress for her turn as Regina, while Ms. Nixon received the nod for Featured Actress as Birdie. The Lillian Hellman play, nominated for Best Revival of a Play, closes on July 2. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street , 212-239-6200.

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The big diva story, however, lies with the musicals. 

Bette Midler is an instant hit, and a Leading Lady nominee, as meddling matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levy in the Tony-nominated revival of Jerry Herman’s and Michael Stewart’s masterpiece Hello Dolly! (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200). Pitted against each other, Patti Lupine and Christine Ebersole create a bravura War Paint dance at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street, 877-250-2929) as cosmetics industry titans, with both ladies nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole

It’s a shame we don’t have the opportunity to award Glenn Close another Tony – she isn’t eligible for her reprise as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard because she’s already won a Tony for that role. It’s also a shame that the category of musical revivals was reduced to only three contenders this year, thus also closing out the show from another potential award.

Glenn Close

Nonetheless, Sunset Boulevard is a musical that you should not miss, and don’t let a non-appearance on the Tony Awards roster nor on the stage of Radio City Music Hall on June 11 deter you. Ms. Desmond's non-acceptance of her relevance as an aging silent-screen actress spiraling out of control is a powerful story that evokes admiration and pity. Think Follies meets Grey Gardens. It's a privilege to watch Glenn Close take on the same role she played 20 years ago in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tour de force, this time with a maturity and presence even more in keeping with the story line. The songs strike with pathos and stay with you long after the curtain falls. Grab any ticket you can; the end date is June 25. You can even buy a keepsake to remind you of this glorious musical evening, a beautiful replica of Norma Desmond's jewelry specially curated for the show.  Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th St., 877-250-2929. 

NYC Has a Sexy New Cabaret Spot (Drinks and Dinner, Too)

I have a new favorite place to watch cabaret, Broadway tunes, and all manner of musical entertainment. And it's all in an intimate yet spacious setting in a hotel, at the edge of the Theater District. The GreenRoom 42 has given New York City a new option when it comes to great entertainment and dining in a cool setting. Brought to you by Broadway lovers who have analyzed how to create a better burger (you’ll see what I mean later), and, in this case, a better cabaret venue, the Green Room 42 shines with a purple glow with a stage and acoustics just right for a night of song. 

The Green Room 42 - Photo: Meryl Pearlstein 
On any given night the headliner might be Alice Ripley of Next to Normal and Sideshow fame singing her favorite ballads, or Lillias White of Fela!, The Life, Dreamgirls.  Or maybe it's the entire cast of Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 led by Josh Groban, singing their favorite Broadway and non-Broadway chansons. 

Josh Groban @The Green Room 42 - Photo: Meryl Pearlstein

Lillias White - Photo: Victoria Mora-Purroy

Sunday’s bottomless brunch has been host to the Skivvies, the duo who saucily perform a tuneful medley wearing nothing but their lingerie and tighty whities. The menu for both tunes and food is equally evocative.  Think “Out of the Boxers,” a falafel waffle with poached egg, tahini and bacon; and “The Package,” with pita-baked beef, egg salad, tomato coulis and pickles.

But here's the best part. Well, maybe the second best part. There's actually no food and beverage minimum at The Green Room 42. Come for the show, grab a drink, have a bite. Do it all or do none of it. This is your evening to enjoy a show as you see fit. Show tickets are reasonable, as well, starting at $15.

On the docket are a Tony’s viewing party on June 11, with open bar, passed hors oeuvres and entertainment; the music of Nine on May 29; “At This Performance,” a show with Broadway understudies and standbys taking the lead on July 10, and “The New Peggy,” a new musical in concert on July 16 among others. Check the schedule for additions.

 
Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser
But if had my druthers, I’d always come to dine as well.  The Green Room 42 serves dinner nightly (in addition to brunch), helmed by Green Fig’s Chef Gabriel Israel (who is also responsible for the cool graffiti art adorning the walls at the banquettes). Try their offbeat schnitzel burger, with a fried chicken cutlet in place of a traditional hamburger patty, slathered with homemade BBQ sauce and topped with a tangy cranberry-Brussel sprout slaw (now you know what I mean by “a better burger”), shareable items like greenroom mushrooms, falafel bites and tuna tartare; or larger plates including steak frites and Tajin baked beef kebab. A creative cocktail menu is offered along with beer and wine.

You can reserve your tickets at http://www.greenfignyc.com/thegreenroom42 , 570 10th Avenue, 4th floor, Yotel hotel, 646-449-7792.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Cagney The Musical -- Last Chance to Buy Tickets, Closing May 28

You might have forgotten that James Cagney started off in Vaudeville as a song-and-dance man. It was later in life that he developed his “tough guy” persona, becoming one of the Hollywood’s top actors. And you might not even remember some of the songs that made him famous like pretty much everything that George M. Cohan wrote.

 (All Photos: Carol Rosegg)

You have one more month to see Cagney, the off-Broadway musical that’s as much a powerhouse as James Cagney was.  Played by Robert Creighton, a Cagney lookalike with matching bravado and appearance, James Cagney dominates the stage as he takes on role after role starting as a chorus girl and rising to the top of the Broadway Vaudeville and Hollywood film scenes. Everyone tap dances in this show, not surprisingly, and it’s wondrous to see this dance form on the stage. 



You know the songs: “Give My Regards to Broadway, ““You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  Now you’ll also learn about how this spunky kid from New York City’s Lower East Side won the hearts of the stage and film world too.  The show which chronicles James Cagney's involvement with Warner Brothers over the years includes both the classic Cohan tunes as well as original music.  Westside Theatre (upstairs), 407 West 43rd Street, Manhattan. For tickets, cagneythemusical.com, 212-239-6200. 

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